Monday, September 01, 2014

House guests

Our nephew, Dr. Tim, and his lovely wife spent the night at our house last Thursday night. They were on their way to Virginia for a wedding, and even though it was a half hour out of their way, they drove through Fort Wayne to see us.

They arrived around midnight Thursday night, and then left around 10 am Friday morning. We met Carrie and the kids at the local Spyro's for breakfast. It was a short stay, but it was nice to visit with them nonetheless.

They got stopped by a cop on their way here because they had a headlight out. We were going to fix it Friday morning, but Tim googled how to do it and decided against it. Apparently for their GM SUV it requires 30-40 minutes just to change a bulb. It begins with removing the front tire. Who in the world thought THAT would be a good idea?!? So they just left it until their trip is over.

I also loan Tim several Henri Nouwen books and a Eugene Peterson book. Glad they can be put to use.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mowing

I mowed the lawn this morning. I actually dropped the deck down to the second from highest setting. It was a nice morning to mow. It occurred to me that I don't think I've used the weedeater at all yet this year. Or maybe I did once - I can't remember. Anyway, one of these days I need to use the edger along the sidewalks and driveway.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Reconciliation

The other night several people were sharing a quote on twitter from someone named Paul Tripp. Apparently he said, "If your response to reconciliation is 'I want to cover my butt legally,' then you're not interested in reconciliation." I think that is superbly accurate.


The irony immediately sprung into my mind because, when I finally got some denominational people to meet with us (actually, it took Lance to get it done), the very FIRST thing the Regional Director said was something along the lines of, "Well, it took us awhile to respond because first we had to see what our legal responsibilities were." That didn't surprise me, but is totally pathetic nonetheless... especially for a group of church leaders. And especially when all we wanted was to find a sense of closure and possibly some encouragement.

Although that is at least more understandable to me than the response I got from the church leader who seems to be running things at our old church. When I mentioned reconciliation, she said, "Sometimes reconciliation just means moving on." Really?! That doesn't seem like reconciliation AT ALL, but more like, "Why can't you just go away and leave us alone?" The typical disposable mentality of our day and age. If you can't get along with your co-workers - just find another job and forget them. If you can't get along with your spouse - just get another one. If you get tired of your pet - drop it off in a ditch or in front of the animal shelter.

That's probably the thing that has irritated me the most about this whole situation with our former church. There has been absolutely NO interest in reconciliation or restoration from the leaders (both denominationaly and with the local church leadership group). Not only was I the pastor there for 14 years, but our entire family were friends with the people there. Apparently that means nothing to some people.

And I'll go on a little personal rant here... The person who seems to be in charge of our old church has run their life just like this. She always gave the impression she was divorced. We have since heard that she is, in fact, not divorced. She just chooses not to live with her husband. She also has a history of jumping from job to job - often leaving the organization in a shambles when she goes. Add to that how she would constantly tell us that as soon as we left the church, she would be right behind us. How she complained about how incompetent the board members were; how backwards so many of the people were. She would consistently ask me why I stayed there as pastor. She wondered why the denomination didn't just shut the church down. I could go on...

So imagine our surprise when we found out that she, along with her brother (both former Apostolics), share almost all of the preaching now. I suppose she thinks she's found the only two people fit to lead a church she could be part of --- herself and her brother.

Interestingly enough, she is also the only one who had any contact with either Jane or I the entire time I was on sabbatical (it was with Jane, not me). She was also the only board member who came to our house when she and the interim pastor told us we couldn't return. So I suspect she is the source of much misinformation; and I also suspect some outright lies. I have heard from numerous people that she insists I was not going to return from my sabbatical. That is totally untrue. I also clearly remember on the night she came to our house when she said, "Dan, surely you didn't think your return was just up to you?" We were dumbfounded, because we certainly didn't think it was just up to me either. We didn't know there was any question about it! The entire board had agreed on a 3-month sabbatical for me. Why else would there have been a start date and a return date? Why else would we have made a 3-month contract with an interim pastor? It just kind of blows my mind how someone who had only been a board member for 4 months could change things so easily and quickly.

Now, I know it's possible that maybe I have been given some misinformation myself, or that I could be a little skewed in my thinking... But all we've ever asked for was an explanation of why we were booted from the church so we could try to find some closure. And all we've ever been told is, "We don't think that would be in our (their) best interest." So, again, absolutely no consideration for reconciliation or restoration. And, the way things are in our denomination, no accountability either.

So, yes, I admit it would be hard for me to ever trust or believe anything this person said again. I also openly admit that we are still having a hard time coming to grips with the whole thing. The dismissal, the lying, the deceit, the lack of concern or remorse, the being discarded and ignored... Yet for some reason I still hold out hope for reconciliation. I am more than open to it with just about everyone in the church (other than a few). My heart is still pretty fragile and I'm not sure I could muster forgiveness with those few on my own. But I'm at least praying that God might make that possible. It just doesn't seem right that, as followers of Jesus, we can not believe in the hope of reconciliation. Or that our first instinct is to want to cover our butt legally.

But... as usual... what do I know? And I'm sorry if this was too much information to share. We have had it bottled up for over a year now, and I'm tired of worrying about what other people think. It's the truth. I am still slightly angry; I am still very frustrated; but I would still like to think we can do all things through Christ. Sometimes I have my doubts though. Such is life.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Collections

One part of my job that I don't really like all that much is making collection calls. Every day we are supposed to call people who are 8, 18, or 28 days late - giving them a courtesy call to let them know that a late fee is going to be assessed on the next day. It seems every day there are several of these calls to make. We also need to contact people whose credit cards did not go through that are on autopay. It is usually either because they don't have enough money in their account, or they got a new card. We also need to keep in touch with people who are in lien status (past 30 days late, and they've been locked out of their unit), or auction status (past 90 days late, and they are scheduled for the next auction).

I admit that there are days I just don't make any calls. I need to be in the right mood. However, there are some days that I just get on a roll and I call a whole bunch of people. There have been times when I've contacted everyone on the late list - which could be up to 40 people or so. I often seem to have better luck emailing certain people, so I will do that if I think they prefer that method.

When I make calls I kind of assume that the person will not answer their phone. It's almost always a shock when they do. It also seems that unless someone is new and they just forgot it was their payment date, most people are on the list every month. Those people can tend to irritate me, especially if they gripe about the late fees or something.

When I first started I was scared to death to call people. Now it doesn't bother me near as much, but I still don't like doing it. I also used to have a hard time charging people late fees. I would waive them more times than I didn't. I am getting much better at sticking to them now though. Not sure if that's really a good thing or not. But if you're late, you're late.

One thing I do enjoy is watching my collections pie chart go down after someone has paid. Son-in-law Drew told me he likes to keep his collections down around 5% or below. That means only 5% of tenants are late (I think). So I work pretty hard at trying to do that as well. Last week I got down to 4.0 and I was pretty happy. But the very next day it shot up to 4.7. I am currently sitting at 5.2. 

So there's that. It doesn't help that I don't like talking on the phone, period. Oh well. I guess that's why they call it "work."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Think about it (a jakob dylan story)

I'm friends with a lady in New York. We met on this thing called the "Reckless Country Soup" and we are both big Jason & the Scorchers fans. Last night she (Nadine) went to see Homemade Sin - which includes Warner Hodges (guitar legend from JATS, as well as Dan Baird - from the Georgia Satellites). Anyway, Nadine shared this story (and pics) about Jakob Dylan on Facebook this morning:

So Dan Baird and I are talking after the show and this guy walks up, interrupts and says, "Hi Dan, I'm Jakob", and waits for a response. Dan gets a quizzical look on his face and Jakob says, "Think about it". I knew immediately and left them alone to talk. Jakob is a huge JATS and Homemade Sin fan.

I LOVE Jakob's music. And also his dad's (Bob). Very cool that he is/was a Jason & the Scorchers fan like me. :)

Warner Hodges, Dan Baird, Jakob Dylan

Warner, Jakob, Nadine

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I thought it would be different

When I was preaching every week, one thing that was always a concern in the back of my mind was... when the time came that I wasn't preaching, would I be able to sit and listen to someone else? I was afraid it might be difficult for me; that I would listen with a critical ear; or, worse yet, that I would constantly be comparing my preaching to theirs ("I wouldn't have said that," or "why didn't they mention this?", etc., etc.). I have to say, though, that I have been quite content with listening and learning. I actually don't miss preaching at all. I thought I would. In reality, it is quite refreshing to listen to and learn from others - and sometimes from people who aren't all that good at teaching/preaching. I truly believe we can learn something from anyone though, and for now anyway, I am very comfortable doing that.

So it got me to thinking this past weekend, as I listened to a preacher I'd never heard before - was I 'out of position' all those 14 years that I preached on a weekly basis? I certainly used to like to preach. I liked researching, writing, and crafting sermons. It was invigorating. I was not a super communicator like some people, but I think I was okay. I don't think it was forced at all. I even vaguely remember feeling that it was exactly what I was born to do - especially in a small church. So maybe it was just one of those things that I was supposed to do for a time, and now my time is up. Or maybe I wasn't really that good at it and I never knew. Or, perhaps, like my counselor said, I was simply burned out and needed a break. I have to wonder, had things not ended the way they did - with a group of leaders who seemed intent on completely humiliating me as a pastor and a person - maybe I would want to preach again. But I don't. I know that could change, especially if I ever get over the hurt and pain, but for now I really like listening and learning. And I'm glad that I do... because I can't imagine ever being able to preach again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dentist

I had my 6-month dental cleaning this morning. The appointment was at 8 am, and I was out of there at 8:30. So I was waaaay early for work. But I was happy for the clean bill of dental health.

When I arrived and was waiting in the reception area there was another guy waiting too. He started asking about my Buick. Turns out he works for GM. He rambled on and on and was asking me all these questions, and giving me all this info about cars.... and I was still half asleep. I was glad when he got called back so I could just sit and space out. Since I don't start work until 9:30 I'm not used to be functional that early in the morning.

Once I got called back I went to my usual spot - the corner chair that looks out onto Jefferson Blvd. I can't remember my hygenists name, but I like her. She is real quiet and sweet, and she never asks me questions while she has her hands in my mouth. Mostly she just cleans my teeth, polishes them (I chose mint over cinnamon again), and then flosses. Then the dentist comes in and looks at my gums and each of my teeth. He is nice too. And that's pretty much it. I was a little surprised they didn't do x-rays, but maybe they only do that once a year.

So now I have a new toothbrush, tiny tube of toothpaste, and a small box of floss. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mowing

I mowed the lawn yesterday. Man, was it hot. Of course I did it at one of the hottest, muggiest points in the day - around 5 pm. I haven't sweat that much in a long time. Anyway, I mowed on the highest setting again. It was really long in the back. When I got done I also pulled some of our towering weeds from between the two "face trees." I had to stuff them in the garbage bin since it was full from cleaning out the garage earlier in the day. Btw, our grass is about as green as it's been all year. Seems weird at the end of August.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cleaned the garage

I've spent the last 5 hours or so cleaning the garage. Ugh. And it is HOT outside. But it needed it.

I threw a bunch of stuff away, I rearranged stuff, I hung stuff up, I swept, I used the blower, I sent some stuff over to Drew Carrie's (my old red wagon and my old pedal John Deere tractor).

I had two reasons for wanting to clean the garage. 1) I would like to paint the floor sometime. The concrete is starting to look a little nasty, so I'd like to use that garage floor sealer/paint stuff to try to keep it around for awhile longer. 2) I'm hoping to have room for a motorcycle in there one of these days. I think I actually might be able to do it. Maybe.

Now that I'm done with that... I need to mow the yard. It is way overdue as well. But it's still way hot. I suppose I should take a shower when I'm done with that. I'm pretty hot, sweaty and dirty right now.

So this is what Saturday's are all about, huh? :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

An old arrow...

I was sitting down to write something this morning and I noticed that someone had reached back into my archives and was taking a gander at this old post from 2009. I was writing much better back then, and about much more interesting topics. So I thought I would re-post this quote from James Bryan Smith's great (great) book, "Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven." At the time I was lamenting my need to re-read it. I still do. It was such an impactful book for me. Anyway, this is the quote I posted from it.

From p. 2...

It was more than a picture. It was the summation of a person's life, a symbol that said more about who he was than mere words can. Rich Mullins was a man who stood among the ruins - the ruins created by his own faults and failings, the ruins that result from the ravages of time. In the midst of the ruins he pointed to heaven, to the God who bundles our brokenness and heals our wounds. He felt the winds of heaven as he stood upon the stuff of earth and pointed, through his words and his music, to something larger than even our own dreams. Rich Mullins was an arrow pointing to heaven.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday

Nothin much to say today. It rained off and on. Still supposed to storm yet again tonight.

I went to put the garbage out by the curb - because they pick it up early Friday morning - and when I opened the can it didn't have anything in it. I found a few sticks in the yard so I put them in and wheeled it out to the street.

Pretty exciting, I know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pain...

Travis Reed posted the following quote by Walter Brueggemann on his Facebook status last night. I remember seeing Brueggemann speak in person once. He was giving a lecture at the seminary I was attending. He said "son-of-a-bitch" or some such harmless word, and a bunch of people got up and walked out. I didn't really even notice that he said it, I was pretty into what he was talking about. I thought it was amazing.

Anyway, I don't know that I have any real thoughts on this quote at the moment.... but it struck a chord, and I wanted to save it. It's from an interview Travis did with Walter.

From my time with Walter yesterday...He says, "I think the conversation needs to always begin with pain. What pain have you got? And where does the pain come from? And if the person is innocent enough to say I don’t have any pain, then the question is, who do you know that has pain? Or do you think your actions and investments are causing any pain for anyone? I think there is a huge bias in the Bible about taking pain as the primary language of human possibility. We always want to juxtapose joy and pain in the gospel, or in my church tradition we speak of the cost and joy of discipleship. But I think that pain is always privileged in the gospels. So you know the exodus story begins with They groaned and cried out under their pain in Egypt and that led to the whole business. And Jesus encounters it seems to me are largely with people in pain or with the people who are causing the pain...need actual engagement with those who bear the pain of society.. . . the good nuns . . . they kind of move back and forth between places of pain and the Eucharistic table, back and forth. I think that is the story."